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on the less-than-perfect childhood

Thursday, January 22, 2015

click here to find photo credit (and a recipe for oatmeal)
He's standing on the kitchen counter.

I look over and see the familiar leather school shoes against the cuff of jeans that aren't quite too short. Balanced between a peanut butter jar and a loaf of bread, his head is in the spice cabinet, and he's searching for ... what? Everything he could need is already on the counter. Oatmeal bubbles on the stove, and I'm working fast. Nobody wants pasty oatmeal. I reach for nuts, vanilla, and cinnamon while removing the boiling pot from the heat. Kids are swarming around, lunch and breakfast prep are both underway, and he's standing on the kitchen counter.

"See?" I said, and I heard my own note of irritation. "You ask to help me in the kitchen, and then you get in here and mess around. That's frustrating."

walking in the dark

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Yesterday marked six months. Six months since I saw my son's life pull away from us like a wave, then wash back two minutes later. Six months since I realized children can just ... die. You can give them the very best of who you are, you can feed them fruits and vegetables and curtail their media and make sure they go to bed on time, and still they can wander away and just die. As my friend said so eloquently, my life stood on a razor's edge that day. No matter what happens - and we had the best possible outcome - you can never go back.

I'm on Huffington Post today!

I'm over at Huffington Post, sharing an open letter to Millenials. You probably hate open letters, right? Usually they aren't my style either. But this one is different. I'm not poking fun, and I'm not ranting. I'm sharing why we need Millenials to do exactly what they are doing.

"I'm a Gen-Xer, and the media once disparaged my generation too. We were the latch key kids, the ones who raised ourselves while our mothers climbed the corporate ladder for the first time. I grew up in public schools back when children were still left behind, and I remember reading the articles (in print, of course) despairing how my generation would ever be educated enough to lead. They were wrong about us, too. I see you, and I remember what it felt like to be 23. To be convinced if I loved hard enough, worked long enough, hoped big enough, I too could change the world."

You can read more here.

on living Advent

Saturday, December 20, 2014

image by Baz Ratner
This week I called an old friend - the kind of friend you talk to twice a year, but with whom you share your secrets. I told her nothing was as it should be, and lately I'm just talking to the ceiling. Advent, she told me. It's the season of waiting, and you're living in it.

It's easy to celebrate waiting in a symbolic way. To remember the young pregnant woman, to reflect on the prophecies of Isaiah, to sit in silence and awe. It's easy to light candles and reflect on their anticipation. Advent in the abstract draws up beauty, wonder, inspiration. It's easy.

Advent in real life isn't quite so serene.

We told our children there was no Santa. They argued with us.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Today I'm over at Mamapedia, sharing how my husband and I thought we'd raise children without Santa, but our kids had other ideas. You can read more here.

If you are here from Mamapedia, welcome! You may be interested in my thoughts on refusing to hide, or why I don't want to give my children a faith that scares them (and what I'm doing to prevent it). If you connect with what you see here, you can follow along on Facebook. I'd also love to meet you! You can email me at awidemercy at gmail dot com.

When you want to do more than survive the early years

Friday, December 12, 2014

You and I, we're doing something hard. We're devoting our energy to meaningful lives, to sharing our souls with our children, to staying connected with our spouses, and to nurturing our wider communities. Then we're waking up and doing it again the next day. It's grueling work. Rewarding - yes. Beautiful and worthwhile - of course. Honoring to God and to the little people made in His image hanging onto our legs - to be sure. Still. It is really hard.

The question I ask myself most often is, how do I maintain my pace? How do I keep giving my best to the people I love? How do I keep showing up and being present, really present, day after day after day? How do I keep up with both the physical and emotional needs of my family? How do I keep pursuing the ideas and projects that nurture my soul? How do I do more than just survive the early years of mothering a large family? How how how how how?

How do you structure your kids' time? And how much does it really matter?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

"Stop. Don't panic. If you cry, you can't think about what you need to do next. Look around you, and find the next place to put your foot." She drew a ragged breath and clutched her dad's hand. Another breath. Then she looked down.

The next logical step was unclear, even to me. We'd chosen this trail because a guide had told us it was perfect for kids. In one sense, it was. They'd climbed the walls of caves and discovered waterfalls, and the views were enough to make even little boys pause.

But this trail was much too dangerous for small children. The boulders went straight up, the water below was fast and cold. For the last hour we'd picked our way through uneven rocks muddied with ice and slush. My kids are accustomed to the hard work of hiking, but this was too much for any of us. All the same, here we were. We'd gotten up the steep embankment somehow. Now we had to get down it.

I looked again at my little girl catching her breath beside her dad. She wasn't crying because she was scared. So far, her fears are limited to Swiper the Fox and the monster she insists lives in our laundry room. She doesn't understand how easily something could go wrong right now. Instead, she cried because she thought she couldn't do it. We knew she was wrong.

 

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